Home' Greymouth Star : May 26th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, May 26, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1521 - Martin Luther is banned by Edict of
Worms for his religious beliefs.
1703 - Samuel Pepys, British diarist, dies. His
diary covered the years from 1659 to 1669.
1834 - Sikhs capture Peshawar from British
1853 - Last convict ship to Van
Diemen’s land, the St Vincent,
arrives in Hobart.
1865 - Surrender of last
Confederate army at Shreveport,
Louisiana, ends US Civil War.
1923 - The first Le Mans 24-hour
motor race is run.
1940 - Evacuation of British troops from
France in the face of a German invasion begins
1954 - Funeral ship of Pharaoh Cheops is
discovered in Egypt.
1977 - George H Willig scales the outside of
the South Tower of New York’s World Trade
1990 - Boris Yeltsin fails to win a majority in
balloting for Russian presidency.
1991 - Austrian airliner bound for Vienna
explodes and crashes into the jungle in
Thailand, killing all 223 people on board.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough,
English general (1650-1722); Alexander
Pushkin, Russian writer (1799-
1837); Al Jolson, US singer and
actor (1886-1950); John Wayne,
US actor (1907-1979); Miles Davis,
US jazz trumpet player (1926-
1991); Stevie Nicks, American
singer (1948-); Hank Williams Jnr,
US country singer (1949-); Lenny
Kravitz, US singer (1964-); Helena Bonham
Carter, UK actress (1966-); Crown Prince
Frederik of Denmark (1968-).
“Nothing is really work unless you would
rather be doing something else.” — Sir James
Barrie, Scottish dramatist (1860-1937).
“This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it. ”
— Psalms 118:24.
“On the West Coast
of the South Island
new mines are being
opened up as the older
workings become exhausted,” said the Under-
Secretary of Mines, Mr P M Outhwaite, in
Wellington last week. Mr Outhwaite was
commenting on a statement made last week
by Sir Edward Warren, a vice-chairman of
the International World Power Conference.
Sir Edward had said that world coal resources
would be in short supply in 10 to 15 years.
Mr Outhwaite said that whatever the
position in the rest of the world, New Zealand
possessed sufficient reser ves of coal to last at
least 100 years. “At the present time a route is
being sur veyed to open up new areas on the
Grey coalfields,” he went on.
John Logan, of Greymouth, scored a
unanimous points win over Bill Finau, of
Wellington, in their four two-minute round
heavyweight boxing contest at the Army
Drill Hall on Saturday night. Logan, the
Australasian heavyweight champion, weighed
in at 13st 12lb and Finau at 13st 2lb. Logan’s
win was the second successive victory over the
A large crowd was present when the bell rang
for round one. The 11 preliminary bouts were
also well supported. The referee for all bouts
was Mr Jack Beban, of Greymouth.
COATES-MICHELL .- The engagement
is announced between Beverley Judith, eldest
daughter of Mr and Mrs V G Michell, of
Ballarat, Victoria, and John Kinsley, elder son
of Mr and Mrs J M P Coates, of Haupiri,
uFood for thought
Printed and published by the
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03 755 8422
ou can not say Vladimir
Putin lacks a pointed sense
of humour. The entree at the
Russian president ’s dinner
for news agency editors at
the weekend was ‘Crimean
flounder’. No kidding.
As dinner was ending in the ornate
Konstantinovsky Palace, Putin was asked
whether he speaks regularly with United
States President Barack Obama.
“ We have some contacts,” he shrugged.
“But now I have to go speak with Mr
(Francois) Hollande and Mrs (Angela)
Merkel,” the French president and the
German chancellor, respectively.
With that he gave a champagne toast,
But before that he spoke at length on
many topics during a three-hour inter view
before and during a seven-course dinner
that included soft smoked sturgeon salad
and white asparagus soup with black
caviar, as well as the recently Russified
The topics ranged from the over-arching
(Ukraine and the prospect of a new Cold
War) to the less well-known (the status of
four islands disputed by Japan and Russia,
in response to a Japanese editor’s query).
The former communist quoted the Bible
several times, dismissed suggestions that
he wants to recreate the former Soviet
Union, and said he does not want a new
He also declared himself “liberal” on
social and sexual mores, but added that
people should not be “aggressive” in
foisting their values on others.
Speaking in Russian, with simultaneous
translation into seven other languages,
Putin came across as a clever, articulate
man, with a grasp of the intricacies of
issues, big and small. But the strongest
impression, which emerged time and
again, was of Putin’s strong sense of
aggrievement over the west ’s relegation of
Russia, in his view, to second-tier status. It
is bitter. And it is personal.
“I always treat our partners with due
respect,” he said at one point, “and I hope
others treat Russia and me, personally,
in the same way.” Regarding Obama’s
denunciation of Russia’s annexation of
Crimea, Putin snapped: “No one should
talk like that to Russia.”
At another point during dinner he
declared: “If Russia is only allowed to sit
next to someone and listen to what others
say” at international conclaves, “that is not
the rightful role for Russia. ”
He also decried “rude, forceful action
against Russian interests” that might have
led to Ukraine joining Nato and deploying
missiles within easy range of Russia. He
added: “ The west should have considered
the consequences” of encouraging such
When an Italian editor asked about
his reaction to rising nationalism and
right-wing radicalism in Western Europe,
Putin replied: “I hope you are not
blaming us for that!”
The editor had not suggested, even
indirectly, that Russia was to blame. And
the notion that he is trying to re-create
the old Soviet Union, Putin declared, was
“a tool in the information war” fomented
by western media.
The dinner for journalists culminated
the three-day St Petersburg International
Economic Forum, a discussion and
networking event, patterned after the
annual talkfest in Davos. The f o r u m’s
aim was to attract foreign investment,
which Russia badly needs. Its economy is
teetering on recession, and the Ukraine
crisis has helped spark what the central
bank put at almost $64 billion in net
capital flight in the first three months in
the year, almost as much as in the whole of
Putin pointed repeatedly to a recent
commercial success: his new deal to
provide China with $400b of natural gas
over three decades. But most American
chief executives stayed away from the
forum, at the urging of the Obama
administration. And despite Putin’s desire
to focus the conference on investment
opportunities, the discussion kept
returning to Ukraine.
After his speech to the conference’s
plenary session on Friday, for example,
Putin sat for an on-stage inter view with
CNBC Europe anchor Geoff Cutmore. At
one point, when Cutmore kept pressing
Putin on Ukraine, the president snapped:
“Oh, come on, really. You are a difficult
man to deal with!”
During the dinner with journalists he
declined to name the national leader, past
or present, he admires the most. “ There is
a saying in the Bible, ‘Thou shall not make
a graven image,” he explained. “ That said, I
love history and read it a lot, and I surf the
web a lot. I often ask myself what other
leaders would do in my situation.”
But Putin expansively answered
most questions, including one from a
German journalist about widespread
Russian revulsion at the recent winner
of the annual Eurovision song contest:
an Austrian bearded male drag artist
wearing a dress.
“The Bible talks about the two genders,
man and woman, and the main purpose
of union between them is to produce
children,” Putin explained. “For us it is
important to reaffirm traditional values....
I personally am very liberal (on matters of
personal morality). People have the right
to live their lives the way they want. But
they should not be aggressive, or put it up
On the sidelines of the economic forum
there was lots of talk about moving
past politics — as if the Ukraine crisis
was akin to an everyday spat between
Tories and Liberals, Democrats and
Republicans, or Social Democrats and
Christian Democrats — and getting
on with business. The head of the
Russian subsidiary of a major American
manufacturer expressed hope that the
current east-west crisis would pass within
months. And a Russian journalist said
he expected that the Russian-American
tensions would ease after Obama leaves
But asked for evidence to support their
views, neither the businessman nor the
journalist had much to offer. And the
war of rhetoric shows little sign of
Commenting on Britain’s Prince
Charles, who compared Russia’s seizure
of Crimea to Hitler’s aggression, Putin
said: “It reminds me of a proverb: If you
are angry, that means you are wrong ...
This comparison is not acceptable. It is
not what monarchs do.”
And at another point, the Russian
president obser ved: “ We have a saying:
‘ You can not make other people like you’.”
Dinner with Putin
The story of the warrior Tongerlongerter,
who cut off his own arm after it was
injured in battle, is little known.
It happened on Australian soil about
1830 but few Australians have heard about
Tongerlongerter, a charismatic
Tasmanian Aboriginal resistance fighter,
led guerilla attacks in a violent struggle
against European settlers.
But it was during a dawn raid by
colonists that his arm was left shattered by
What happened next is the stuff of
legend for the island’s Aborigines.
Tongerlongerter returned to camp,
removed the arm with the help of his
kinsfolk and then painfully cauterised the
wound in fire.
The one-armed chief is considered one
of the towering figures in the Tasmanian
frontier conflict, which is known as the
“He was one of the most renowned
and effective warriors against European
encroachment,” says Nicholas Clements,
author of a book of the same title.
The war, considered by Clements to have
taken place in Tasmania from 1824 to
1831, throws up its share of heroism and
tragedy on both sides.
As well as Aboriginal warriors, there are
stories of women holding off attacks on
their homes with a single musket.
One, Judith Pearce, was speared five
times and spent the rest of her life in an
Clements himself needed to come to
terms with the involvement of an ancestor
settler as he set about writing about the
war’s effect on real people.
The former metalworker and extreme
sports enthusiast was forced into a career
change when he injured his back while
performing a cliff dive.
A reluctant university enrolment became
a PhD in history, which in turn became
The Black War.
The overarching cause of the war was
invasion, Clements says, but a massive
gender imbalance in the colony did not
The spark was sexual violence against
Aboriginal women, he argues.
“The colonists are out there under
minimal super vision,” he tells AAP.
“It doesn’t take much of an
imagination to predict what
Tellingly, he says there are
no records of sexual assault by
Aborigines on white women.
Ambush was the tactic
used by both sides, but the
war obser ved a unique “solar
Aborigines attacked in
daylight while colonists
campfires before a dawn
Aborigines killed thousands
of sheep and cows, but the
fight was not over food — the
meat was never eaten.
At the heart of the book is
the conclusion that what took
place was a genuine war.
Its major battle, known
as the black line, Clements
describes as the largest
military offensive ever to
take place on Australian soil,
second only to the defence of
Dar win during World War
It involved 10% of the
colony’s population — 2200
men — and lasted nearly two months.
The war’s outcome was the death of
up to 1000 Aborigines — some in tribal
conflicts exacerbated by the colony’s
growth — and 250 Europeans.
An Aboriginal population of up to 5000
at the time of European settlement had
been reduced to little more than 200
traditional tribes people.
That number was further reduced when
they were exiled to Flinders Island in
Bass Strait, before a myth of extinction
was born with the death of tribal woman
Truganini in 1876.
Clements’ super visor Professor Henry
Reynolds says the book puts an end to the
history wars” he fought over Tasmania’s
past with conser vative academic Keith
Doubts over whether Tasmania’s
Aborigines were defending their land
and the debate’s most contentious issue,
the number of casualties, are addressed,
“ Windschuttle says unless you’ve got
clear documentation, you can’t count
them,” Reynolds says.
“That ’s clearly impossible.
“ Even now we convict people when the
bodies haven’t been found.”
Windschuttle, whose 2002 book
The Fabrication of Aboriginal History
inflamed the history wars, has already
described the suggestion of 1000 deaths as
a marketing tool.
He says Clements may have added 10 to
20 deaths to the 121 Aboriginal and 187
Europeans in 1803-31 that his research
“ But given the wild exaggeration that has
characterised the work of the left-wing
academic historians who have dominated
this field since the 1960s, I would not
believe anything he says until I have
checked the original records for myself,”
Clements is adamant his research is the
most thorough yet undertaken on the
“ It ’s possible during the whole conflict
over the whole island there were 1000
deaths,” he says.
“ I think 600 in the eastern part of
Tasmanian is a more grounded estimate.
“ Even then I’m more than doubling what
the recorded evidence tells us.
“ But I don’t just pull that number out of
Doubts of a different kind are coming
from Tasmania’s Aboriginal community,
who Clements says he deliberately did not
consult to avoid distorting his conclusions.
The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s
Adam Thompson says consultation should
“ It ’s better if they talk to us first
so we can ensure that they give us
acknowledgment and talk about the
Aboriginal community today so people
reading these books can understand people
have sur vived,” he says.
The book does not place enough
importance on the conflict ’s overall cause,
“ It detracts from some of the overarching
and fundamental elements of the war, such
as the motivations of the colony and the
right of the Aboriginal people to defend
their land and their lifestyle against the
foreign invader,” he says.
Clements and Thompson, though, are at
one in their belief the war’s significance
should be commemorated.
Thompson says Australia needs a
national day to remember invasion and
“Something similar to Anzac Day,
something with the same level of respect
and perhaps even acknowledgement at
the war memorial in Canberra for the
Aboriginal resistance fighters that they
were involved in a war,” he says.
Clements says commemoration should
be led by the Aboriginal community
but Australia could take a leaf out of
Germany ’s book.
“That doesn’t mean a big campaign of
guilt and shame,” he says.
“ I think it’s just as important to
empathise with the Europeans as to
empathise with the Aborigines.
“ If we all understood the history a bit
better, it would help us to empathise with
each other and to move for ward. ” — AAP
Tasmanian book re-ignites ‘history wars’
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